In June 2008, David Cameron opened a speech with the following words:
“Today, I want to tackle an argument that seems to be as cyclical as the economy. The argument that when times are good, we can indulge ourselves with a bit of environmentalism – but when the economic going gets tough, the green agenda has to be dropped.
“According to this argument, protecting the environment is a luxury rather than a necessity – and it’s a luxury we just can’t afford in an economic downturn. I want this generation to be the one that bucks that trend: to be the generation that finds a way to combine economic, social and environmental progress.”
In what I imagine was a shot at critics who thought that the huskies and the cycling (with his papers in the car behind) were a stunt, he made the following very firm statement:
“Today I want to make my position on this absolutely clear. We are not going to drop the environmental agenda in an economic downturn.”
At a press conference this morning David Cameron gave a list of ten reasons to vote for the Conservatives.
The environmental agenda did not feature at all.
The green agenda has been dropped. Completely. And, ironically, as Britain continues to teeter along the brink of recession.
Spend a moment looking at those two documents and then tell me Cameron’s long-term critics weren’t right. Cameron’s environmental credentials have been exposed as the cynical exercise in hoodwinking they always were.
This should ring alarm bells across the South East, and particularly in Basildon and Thurrock, where the threat to our green spaces and natural environment is ever-present. With DP World’s recent announcement that they will be deepening the Thames to allow the largest cargo ships in the world to dock at the proposed London Gateway port, voters should now be clear that making sure developments like this – which are important for jobs and regeneration – don’t wreck our environment is not a priority in any way for Conservatives.
Back in October last year, at the Tory conference, Cameron called for more leadership on the environment:
“And to be British is to have an instinctive love of the countryside and the natural world. The dangers of climate change are stark and very real. If we don’t act now, and act quickly, we could face disaster.
Yes, we need to change the way we live. But is that such a bad thing? The insatiable consumption and materialism of the past decade, has it made us happier or more fulfilled?
Yes, we have to put our faith in technologies. But that is not a giant leap. Just around the corner are new green technologies, unimaginable a decade ago, that can change the way we live, travel, work.
And yes, we need global co-operation. But that shouldn’t be difficult. It just takes leadership, and that’s what we need at the Copenhagen summit this December.”
By contrast, a recent survey of Tory PPCs by ConservativeIntelligence (!) revealed what looked like a shocking gulf in thinking between prospective Conservative MPs and David Cameron’s leadership team. Reducing Britain’s carbon footprint was their lowest priority. Even protecting the English countryside from over-development, something Tory councillors have been preaching for years, was way down the list of priorities.
Then, following ‘Climategate’ and the sceptics’ even more outrageous and very public manipulation of scientific evidence (i.e. flatly denying it), public opinion has shifted on global warming. The BBC recently reported a drop of 8% in the numbers believing it is taking place.
Does Cameron show the leadership he demands, attemting to lead public opinion rather than follow it? No, like his candidates, he limps on behind, dropping environmental commitments that might dent his chances.
When it comes to the environment, David Cameron has been playing us for fools for a long, long time. His environmental commitments were just the latest in a long line of rebranding exercises, designed to get votes by saying whatever people want to hear.
The 75% of people who understand global warming is taking place should stop giving him and his party the benefit of the doubt and take a long hard look at the evidence.
Cameron and the Conservatives cannot be trusted on the environment.